The Resource Agency history of the Virginia Office of the Second Auditor
- Agency history of the Virginia Office of the Second Auditor
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- The history of the second auditor's office began in 1823 when the office was created by the General Assembly as part of an act to improve the navigation of the James and Kanawha rivers. Under the act, the second auditor was given responsibility for the Fund for Internal Improvements and for acting as secretary to the Board of Public Works. He was also appointed clerk and accountant to the directors of the Literary Fund. An act passed in 1829 made him the superintendent of the fund, and he assumed the responsibilities formerly held by the president and directors. In 1835 an act authorized the commissioners of the newly created Sinking Fund to redeem the state's debt, and the second auditor was appointed a commissioner with the responsibility, together with the state treasurer, for keeping the accounts of this fund. In order for the treasurer to receive or disburse monies from any of these funds, he first had to obtain a warrant from the second auditor. The Constitution of 1851 removed the second auditor from the Board of Public Works, but he continued to be responsible for the financial records of the Fund for Internal Improvements.
- Prior to the Civil War, the duties of the second auditor were fairly simple and straightforward, as were the duties of the treasurer. After the war, however, the devastation of the state's economy resulted in the creation of more numerous and complicated records concerning the redemption of the state debt. The office of the second auditor suffered from inadequate procedures for maintaining accurate records on the state's finances. Virginia's finances were in chaos, and the result was the embezzlement of some of the state's funds. The second auditor failed in his duty to keep his records up to date and to compare them for accuracy with those of the treasurer. By 1874, neither office had a complete or accurate account of the public debt, and between 1874 and 1877 major scandals were disclosed involving both offices and that of the sergeant at arms of the House of Delegates. Although a complete revision of the accounting methods used by both financial offices, especially the second auditor's, was called for, only minor changes were made.
- In 1906 a legislative committee made periodic inspections of the finance offices. Finding that the situation in the second auditor's office remained almost as chaotic as it had been in 1874, the committee recommended that the office be abolished and its duties taken over by the first auditor. Although the committee's recommendations were not followed, its members continued to call for reform. Action was taken only after the election of Governor Harry F. Byrd, Sr., in 1926. Byrd hired a group of consultants from New York to study the finance offices, and the resulting report brought about a complete reorganization of state government in 1928. The offices of first and second auditor were abolished and replaced by a newly created office of comptroller. The second auditor's office closed its books on February 29, 1928.
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